Jennifer L. Place is a native of the Hudson Valley in New York. Her most recent book ‘Building 51‘, is based on a real abandoned asylum, in which the titled ‘Building 51″ is part of.
Having grown up in an area with this forgotten hospital Jennifer confesses she’s had an interest in it since childhood. It loomed in the background, and although she’d written 3 other successful books, the time came to invest in her curiosity.
She organised a tour of the sprawling campus and this shows throughout the book. Her knowledge of the grounds enhances the atmosphere of the novel. This is further boosted by accurate historical information displayed throughout. Evidence from the hospitals 140 years of life and beyond provides us with the chilling truth. Nothing that despicable ever dies.
If you are interested in learning more about the author herself, please feel free to head over to her website which can be found here.
As a lover of the horror genre, my initial approach to any novel within its scope is tentative. Unlike softer genres such as comedy or romance, when horror is bad, it’s awful. Therefore I was delighted to find that this story, while formulated in a classic trope, has new ideas and scares to offer. The opening shot sets group dynamics of 7 friends. They’re young, carefree, and mischievous, perfectly positioned for pain. Place jumps right into the guts of the matter as they plan to explore the abandoned hospital.
While you may make some predictions, you will not fully guess the ending. We are treated to complex character arcs, without an over indulgencing in flashbacks. You can tell the author’s imagination is well-developed and her days pondering over the dilapidated hospital is apparent.
*Ahead there be spoilers!!!*
The ‘love’ triangle’ which plagues 3 of the characters adds to the story agreeably. I have often found this tool to be cumbersome, however, without it, the characters may have behaved differently. Place directs her characters and ultimately people break off into groups. Which you should never do in a horror story, don’t they know they’re in a book?! Although Place dips into classic horror analogies there are times the characters poke fun at this and do not make the decisions we would expect them to make.
Another theme I really loved was the classic blood ‘wakes’ the beast. It shows Place really thought about ‘the why’ when she wrote this book. The 7(also a classic horror number) friends are not just attacked because they dare to wander the grounds of the hospital. It’s is an incident where blood is spilled which causes the hospital to rouse from its slumber, and welcome its new guests.
The grandmother’s introduction was seamless and the throwback to her at the end was inspired. I think this is a sensational read and you won’t want to put the book down. So make sure you’re sitting comfortably with your beverage of choice before you embark.
Yes, you can find Jennifer L. Place on all the usual platforms, and I’ve linked much of her media below. She has other books if horror is not your fancy, as you can see, so go buy one of those. You won’t be disappointed, and once again, thanks for reading Moonlings!
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